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Brady Hoke wants UM back to its pro-style ways. But he doesn't want Denard Robinson to change.

Updated: October 21, 2011, 11:17 AM ET
By Brett Forrest | ESPN The Magazine
Denard RobinsonLeon Halip/Getty ImagesDenard Robinson may not fit Coach Brady Hoke's vision for the team, but no one's complaining.

A version of this story appears in the Oct. 31 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

ON OCT. 8 AGAINST NORTHWESTERN, under the lights in Evanston, Ill., the only thing about Denard Robinson that screamed Michigan was the winged helmet. He threw three first-half interceptions, interspersing his errant passes with Katy-bar-the-door runs that have made him essential viewing every Saturday.

Robinson, to be sure, is nothing like Tom Brady, Chad Henne or the other pro-style quarterbacks the Wolverines have machine-pressed and packaged off to the NFL in the past two decades. But for a school that nurtures its traditions more dearly than perhaps any other, a combined record of 1522 the last three seasons under Rich Rodriguez has made for trying self-analysis -- and a willingness to embrace whatever works.

Enter new coach Brady Hoke. Never mind that the former UM assistant is a disciple of traditional passing offenses. He's fully embraced the six-foot Robinson, the same QB who was the centerpiece of Rich Rod's spread-option scheme.